Liverpool’s Rhian Brewster conundrum

If there is one thing for certain about Rhian Brewster, it’s that he is a natural goalscorer.

Every level of football he has played has brought goals galore.

He was tipped for success at an early age when he was with Chelsea’s academy, encouraging Liverpool to snap him up after a recommendation by Michael Beale.

In 16/17, Brewster played with Liverpool’s u18’s. He scored five goals in 11 u18 Premier League games.

The following season came five in 11 once again, but this time with the u23’s.

His record for the England u17’s? 23 games, 20 goals. This includes an u17 World Cup win in 2017, a tournament in which Brewster won the Golden Boot with eight goals.

Then came the disaster.

In January 2018, Brewster cruelly injured his ankle in an u23 game. He required surgery, which kept him on the sidelines for over a year.

He essentially missed out on a year of development at the worst possible stage.

2018/19 was the year that Brewster was supposed to break into the Liverpool first team. Instead, he spent the season in the treatment room.

But then, he returned. Brewster was named on the bench for both the Champions League semi-final and final in 2019, earning himself a winners medal.

Jurgen Klopp stuck by him through the injury, clearly indicating his fondness for such a gifted player. He was even given a low squad number (24), usually reserved for players in the first-team plans.

Brewster finally made his competitive first-team debut against MK Dons in the EFL Cup in September 2019, at 19-years-old.

He continued his development at Melwood until January 2020, when he joined his ex-England youth coach Steve Cooper at Swansea.

His loan spell in Wales saw him score 11 times in 22 games, firing the Swans to a play-off place.

Brewster’s first half-season in senior professional football brought a record of a goal every other game.

Now what for Brewster?

Brewster missed the deciding penalty in the Community Shield defeat to Arsenal. He will have to erase this from his memory in order to move on quickly and continue his improvement. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY ANDREW COULDBRIDGE/POOL VIA GETTY IMAGES.

He has returned to Liverpool ahead of the 2020/21 season, but this is where the questions arise.

Again, goals have been the theme of Brewster’s pre-season – he scored three in two games against Stuttgart and Salzburg.

But what now?

Does Jurgen Klopp see him as part of his plans for the coming campaign? Will he give him the game time he needs to develop into the player he can become?

Or will he go out on loan for another season, in order to get those vital regular minutes?

This argument opens up another topic of discussion. Where should he go on loan?

Would a return to Swansea be best? Or a move to a Premier League side? Or even to a foreign league?

It is certainly an issue that needs resolving.

If Rhian Brewster is to become Liverpool’s future no.9, action needs to be taken in the next few weeks.

A Premier League loan

Brewster is held in very high regard by many, so will have no shortage of Premier League clubs after him. Sheffield United and West Brom are two clubs in need of a natural scorer. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY LIVERPOOL FC.

This first option could well be the best.

Brewster has shown that he is at least at the level of a top Championship player. He is well-capable of scoring goals in the second-tier.

Yet Liverpool quality is quite a few steps up from Championship quality.

Brewster needs to show that he can score goals at a higher level, in particular in the Premier League.

There are numerous sides that are a goalscorer away from having a very decent season in 2019/20.

Imagine the likes of Crystal Palace, West Ham or West Brom had a 15-goal-a-season striker in their ranks? It would presumably assure them Premier League safety, at the very least.

But then there is another issue.

If these teams are not safe by mid-season, would a 20-year-old be trusted to drag them to safety in the run-in? The likelihood is that the more traditional managers would prefer an experienced striker up top, rather than risking a youngster.

The opposite of this is that they are as good as safe by February or March and they have nothing to play for in the last few months.

Brewster’s development could stall again if he has no real prize to set his sights on.

Maybe a team like Sheffield United would suit. They will be aiming for a place in Europe, with a fantastic manager in Chris Wilder.

If Rhian Brewster goes on loan in the Premier League, the best-case scenario is that he goes to a decent side, scores 15-20 goals and drags them to a Europa League spot.

The worst-case scenario is that he goes on a goalless run in a relegation-threatened side before the manager feels the pressure and drops him.

This would be incredibly detrimental to his future. It could see his career stagnate, much like Ben Woodburn’s has since his loan spell at Bramall Lane.

It is a massive risk, despite the fact that there will not be a lack of Premier League suitors.

Yet Brewster does need to prove himself in the league, so it could be a risk worth taking.

A loan elsewhere

Brewster enjoyed a phenomenal half-season on loan at Swansea. Would a return to Wales be best for him this season? ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY SKY SPORTS.

It is possible that a loan to a non-Premier League side is best for Brewster this season.

He showed massive improvement under Steve Cooper at Swansea, so a return to the Liberty Stadium could suit him.

Yet the Welsh outfit are unlikely to challenge for the title, even with Brewster’s help.

Perhaps he should go to a team that will push for automatic promotion. Brentford would make a lot of sense – a side with a good manager than play good football, who will set out to win the league but are likely to lose their key forward this window.

However, as mentioned, Brewster has already proved himself in the Championship. He needs to prove himself against better defenders.

This is where the interesting option of a loan abroad comes in.

There are two leagues in particular that could suit Brewster – the German Bundesliga and the French Ligue 1.

The reason being that these leagues are the closest in style to the English game.

They are also the most likely places to ensure Brewster game time. Both leagues are establishing a good reputation for developing young talent.

A move to a top-four challenging team in either country would make a lot of sense.

The likes of RB Leipzig or Bayer Leverkusen in Germany, who will be among the closest challengers to Bayern Munich’s throne, could do worse than taking a risk on Brewster for a season.

In France, both Rennes and Lille are showing how good they are at nurturing talent. They both also need a goalscorer.

This option would give Brewster a good year’s coaching and learning but also experience of what it is like to compete at the very top level of European football.

Stay at Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp is clearly a big fan of the striker, but will he trust him to start numerous Premier League games in 2020/21? ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY THE DAILY MAIL.

The final option for Rhian Brewster ahead of the 2020/21 season is to stay at Liverpool and fight for a place.

We know that he has the potential to be an elite goalscorer. But Liverpool’s no.9 needs to do a lot more than just score goals.

It is, of course, possible that Klopp’s tactics will evolve in the next few years. He may not want a striker like Roberto Firmino, one who drops deep and brings others into play, to be the future of his Liverpool side.

But there is one key thing that Klopp will always want from his centre-forward. Brewster needs to learn not just to press, but to press intelligently.

He will certainly need to improve this aspect of his game if he wants to become a Liverpool regular.

So where better to learn that than at Melwood under Jurgen Klopp every day?

He would benefit from that side of things but would probably lose out on the game time he needs.

Yes, he has had a great pre-season (Community Shield penalty miss aside), but there are still multiple players ahead of him in the pecking order.

In the immediate future, Firmino will be starting the majority of games up front. In his absence, Takumi Minamino or Divock Origi will be called upon.

If Klopp plays a 4-2-3-1, Mo Salah will probably be the one up top.

So Brewster would probably only play a small number of minutes here and there. At such a key stage of his career, he needs to play regularly.

There is no doubt that Jurgen Klopp and his staff will pick the best option with regards to the future of Rhian Brewster.

The next few weeks will be key in coming to a decision.


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